My friends are asking me, “Where is God in this pandemic?”
This is a valid question, and we should be able to provide guidance that will strengthen hope and faith. The question of the coexistence of a loving God in a world of suffering and evil is complex and difficult, but we have enough in the Scriptures to guide us.
1. THE COSMIC CONFLICT
The very presence of good and evil, order and disorder, beauty and chaos, strongly suggests that a cosmic dissonance is pulling the cosmos apart in a conflict of wills. Two powers struggle for control over an originally good creation: a loving God and Creator and a fallen cherub, one who distorts the character of God and damages His creation. The former manifests His infinite love for His creation while at the same time unmasking the powers of evil and working on their final defeat (Isa. 14:12-15; Eze. 28:12-15). The conflict reveals how seriously God takes the freedom of His creatures, even when they chose rebellion against Him. Every evil in the world, including the present pandemic, finds its point of origin not in God but in God’s enemy (cf. Matt. 13:28).
2. HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY
The extent of evil in the world is often, but not always, connected to human behavior. God appointed humans to administer this planet (Gen. 1:26), and after they joined the cosmic rebellion against God, they have contributed to its deterioration (cf. Rom. 5:12). COVID-19 has made all of us aware of the fact that what we eat and do can threaten not only our private lives but potentially those of the whole human race. We should return to a proper and respectful stewardship of the planet. It is tempting to blame God for the present situation, but to a large extent it is our own doing. Humans, through their words, attitudes, and actions, cause most of the suffering that other humans experience.
3. GOD IS AT WORK
The reality of God in the resolution of the pandemic is totally ignored by atheists and secularists. For them, human wisdom, the scientific community, will find a solution, and the human race will defeat COVID-19. The impression is given that God is not directly active fighting this virus but that He is a detached observer, leaving the defeat of the enemy in the hands of humans. In reality, God is personally involved in the conflict against this common enemy. He places in human hearts the expressions of care for others that we witness as people perform amazing acts of kindness toward others (cf. James 1:17). Christians use passages from the Bible to encourage perseverance in faith and to comfort those who suffer. God assists politicians, in spite of their selfish interests, in the development of plans that will contribute to alleviate the economic and social impact of this evil virus (cf. Rom. 13:1).
Above all, God is directly involved in the development of medicines that will treat the virus and lead to the development of a vaccine. Since all true wisdom comes from God (James 1:5), it would be correct to suggest that in the cosmic conflict He works with scientists in laboratories, at their pace and without overriding their knowledge and skills, to defeat their common enemy. In other words, God is at work within the community of scientists to alleviate and overcome human suffering. He uses anyone who is willing to fight against the forces that oppress human beings. He did it in a formidable way on the cross of Jesus, where He defeated all evil powers (Col. 2:15). We now wait for the ultimate consummation of that victory.